Just a short time ago, I saw something on social media that now has me here chatting with you.
Someone said on their profile page that they've had numerous encounters with unscrupulous journalists who do whatever it takes to "get the story" or even "make up the story."
As a longtime journalist, I have to say that this always surprises me. Believe me, I've never lived in a bubble. I'm pretty much aware of what's going on around me and I certainly know my profession.
I know LOTS of journalists and if you would indulge me for a moment, I can truly say that the vast majority of journalists or "media people" I know or have met are people of integrity.
And as for "making up stories," are you kidding me? Are we living in the same world? No one could make up some of the stuff that's going on these days.
Now, having said that, I've certainly met some journalists who are jerks. But get this ... are they jerks because they're journalists or are they jerks because they're ... just jerks? Isn't it highly likely that they'd be jerks regardless of their profession?
In my life, I've had a couple of very minor encounters with police officers who I'd say were jerks. Many people have. However, does this mean that ALL police officers are jerks? Of course not.
I've met numerous art dealers who I'd say are jerks. Does this mean that all art dealers are jerks? Absolutely not.
We now live in a world where people think they're supposed to be "at odds" with other people. I'm convinced that many people thrive on conflict and drama. Otherwise, why would we spend so much time dwelling on it? How else would you explain the popularity of reality television where name calling and fist fights can be found in practically every episode?
But here's the thing.
I think that we tend to demonize entire professions for the infractions of a few because that's much easier to do than the actual work involved in holding individual people responsible.
Nobody gets it these days like attorneys or worse yet, politicians. You'd think that every single public servant out there - federal, state and municipal - is a corrupt, scumbag constantly on the take.
Okay, I'll admit it. As I'm saying this, I'm swallowing and taking a deep breath along with a leap faith by arguing that NOT all politicians are crooked. There are many public servants out there who are actually concerned about their constituents and do make consistent efforts to do what's in the best interest of people. I've met many who fall into this category.
In short, if you spot a crooked politician with his or her hands in the cookie jar, blame that particular person. Hold THAT PERSON accountable. Don't just blow it off and take the easy route of forever holding ALL politicians in contempt.
God knows there are some horrible teachers out there who really shouldn't be near our kids let alone teaching them. However, does this mean that ALL teachers suck? Of course not.
God knows there are some hideous cops out there who shouldn't be cops, but should we blame all cops ... or should we blame the clowns who shouldn't be cops in the first place?
If you don't like your doctor, do you blame all doctors or do you find another one?
If you're out picking a bushel of apples and you see a couple of rotten apples amid your harvest, do you throw out the entire bushel? Of course not. You weed out the bad apples, take the remainder home and bake a pie.
I just think it's so easy, cowardly and lazy to demonize entire professions for our own individual and unfortunate experiences. But this is how we do things today.
We've really got to get back to the place where we blame the person and not the profession. Professions are not monoliths. We've got to stop always lumping people into one group.
Truth be told, this is often about us and not them. When we demonize an entire profession for the infractions or character deficiencies of a few jerks, this makes it easier for us to give ourselves "the moral high ground." We can totally sidestep the work involved in holding a specific person accountable.
As the complainant, this also protects us from having our own character called into question ... which is part of any accountability process. Most people know - at least subconsciously - that when they complain about someone else, their character is also called into question. This is simply how the process works. That's how it should work. But again, this is why most people choose to demonize entire groups of people or professions rather than do the hard work.
I mean, what do you do for a living? Is absolutely everyone in your profession an unscrupulous jerk?
Of course not. You aren't a bad apple. Are you?
If ALL journalists, cops, art dealers, politicians, lawyers, teachers, doctors and others were as bad as we seem to think many of them are, who else will we turn to when we need their help?
I say blame the person, not the profession.